Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading business and financial centres. It’s the freest economy in the world, as ranked by the Index of Economic Freedom. It acts as a channel for goods into and out of China, so is a springboard into the Chinese market.
Here we’ll examine all the things you need to consider when importing goods from Hong Kong, from paperwork requirements to customs duties and taxes.
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When preparing to import to the UK from Hong Kong, you’ll need to prepare the following:
The amount of duties and taxes payable on your goods from Hong Kong will depend on their commodity codes, as well as the overall purchase and shipping value of the shipment.
The UK does not currently have a trade agreement with Hong Kong. Therefore, the usual third-nation tariffs apply. This means that customs duties will apply to items with a value greater than £135.
The exact amount of duty you’ll have to pay will depend on the commodity codes, which can you can check on the government Trade Tariff website.
Your items won’t make it past the UK border until you’ve paid all the required duties. If you don’t, UK customs may confiscate your items, and in serious cases even issue a fine.
Value Added Tax (VAT) also needs to be paid on anything imported into the UK from Hong Kong. This is calculated on top of import duties and is at the same rate if you had bought the items in the UK – 20%.
Importantly, it also includes the door-to-port cost of shipping the items to the UK. It therefore doesn’t disadvantage companies far from UK ports.
If your EORI number is linked to your UK VAT number, you can claim back the VAT on your normal VAT return by using HMRC form C79.
You don’t need to worry about paying VAT twice when you import from Hong Kong, as it doesn’t have VAT, goods and services tax, or sales tax.
If you have a large shipment, or if your deadlines aren’t urgent, sea freight is probably your best option. If you choose sea freight, delivery will take around 1 month from Hong Kong, with the ship passing through the Suez Canal on its way to the UK.
Air freight is likely the best option for you if you have loads under 100kg, or your items are high value or urgent. Flight times from Hong Kong to the UK will be around 10 hours. If your shipment is due to be part of a consolidated flight, assigning a plane may add some time to the journey.